Leather Bifold Card Wallet & Leather Tutorial


Very nice write-up … Thank you!


Just to reiterate this, hexavalent chromium is bad news. The permissible exposure level is 5 µg/m3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA is an OSHA thing). Manufacturers are required to have professional monitoring every six months at 2.5 µg/m3. The EPA has rules about it as well.

…so unless you’re pretty sure you won’t be releasing that much hex chrome as a consequence of your laser activities, I wouldn’t. That’s setting aside the carcinogenic risk to you personally – just from a plain old liability perspective should anyone ever find out.

Then again, I’m touchy about hex chrome as it’s a big issue for welding, so your risk tolerance may be different, but, seriously, pray your neighbor never finds out and decides that you have money they would like to have in their pocket instead.


Hi Tim,
Excellent write up, thanks for taking the time to do this and share.
Do you have any advice on a “Tool starter kit” for someone new to leather working?

Cheers Dougie


Just to reiterate this, hexavalent chromium is bad news. The permissible exposure level is 5 µg/m3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA is an OSHA thing). Manufacturers are required to have professional monitoring every six months at 2.5 µg/m3. The EPA has rules about it as well.

Thank you for reiterating. It’s a great point and everyone needs to understand the risks involved. My leatherworking process with the Glowforge has evolved over time and I generally cut templates using wood to use for cutting my leather before tooling. Thanks for sharing more of the chemistry and health aspects behind hexavalent chromium! Great points for anyone considering leather projects on their Glowforge.


Hi Dougie,

Here’s a few starter items and kits for someone new to leather working.

  1. If you’ll be hand tooling the leather, you’ll most likely need a nylon hammer. The nylon will help preserve your tools because it won’t dent, bend, or break them. Here’s a link to a relatively low cost and good quality nylon hammer for leather working on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MO8eMb

  2. A lacing pony is a must have for leather workers. It basically holds your items together by clamping them and it allows you to comfortably stitch leather pieces together. I highly recommend cutting scrap leather and gluing it to the clamp areas so that it doesn’t leave impressions on your final leather projects. Here’s a link to a beginner one on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BD0S9K

  3. Other items you’ll need are the actual tools for punching holes and stitching the leather. There are so many different kinds out there, so instead of going into too much detail, there are a lot of beginner kits on Amazon. Here’s one that comes with some beginner waxed thread, diamond hole punches, skiving tools (not always necessary for beginner projects, but good to learn for craftsmanship purposes), some beeswax for edge finishing and waxing tools/thread, edge groover (again a nice craftsmanship thing to learn), needles, and other misc accessories. Here’s the link to it on Amazon https://amzn.to/2wuowjh

Bonus: Tandy Leather Factory has a kit that provides basic tools and leather that’s cut and ready for stitching. If you’re just getting started with leather working and want to learn the saddle stitching process and some basic tooling, this kit is helpful because it comes with an instructional book. The link goes to an amazon product from Tandy, but you can probably find it on their website for less (sometimes items are marked up on Amazon). Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2o4tqiT

Also, remember that you can learn a lot from Google and YouTube, which is a great and free resource. Someone that I follow and does a great job at explaining, showing, and making leather working engaging is Ian Atkinson. Check out this video to learn about the necessary tools and techniques for stitching leather: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0EL7K2NhYs&t=4322s

Although I’d like to go into more detail on this and provide individual products with explanations of them, I think this should be enough to get you started! Let me know if you have more questions. Have a great time getting into leather working :smile:!



Hi Tim,
Thanks man, I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to reply and links that you provided. 'll let you know how I get on!

Cheers Dougie.


@Tim_Ung = Awesome. Great tutorial.


Wondering if you have ever etched into premade leather items? We are in cold Minnesota, where hockey is king, all sorts of teams want their logo etched onto the backs of choppers (they are leather mittens. Wondering if you have attempted anything like this? Will the Glowforge compensate for the thickness? Do I need to build a template to stretch out the mitten?
The process can be done as I have ordered these from other shops, but figure now that I actually have a laser in-house, it is silly to not do them myself. Any help is appreciated to those who have attempted a process like this before.


As long as the outer material is genuine leather (check the tag), you should be fine. I’m guessing you’ll have to remove the crumb tray and maybe shim them up a little. There are tutorials here on how to do the calculations if you need them. Just remember that you may not get the settings right the first try so have at least one you’re prepared to use for experiments.


Just had an idea that’s probably stupid but might be worth trying with a scrap: It’s been established that you can zap damp/wet wood without charring, especially if it’s thin. Would the damage to leather from wetting or dampening exceed the value of avoiding char?


I have been eyeballing some veg tanned kangaroo leather. Any experience with it for a wallet?


That’s a great suggestion! I haven’t tried wetting the leather prior to cutting and I’m sure there are some additional steps to the process to keep the leather from taking on a different shape.


Unfortunately, I haven’t tried kangaroo leather yet. I’d recommend running a scrap piece with various settings to figure out a good cut/etch setting. Let me know how it turns out!


kangaroo leather is supposed to be some of the strongest leather. Super supple, but VERY strong. I’ve had kangaroo leather in soccer cleats and it had no issues holding up to years of abuse on the field.


Thank you for the tips! I’ve been experimenting with leather too and this is very helpful!


Thanks for taking the time for this thorough and detailed write up!


I too have used Acadia leather and Maverick leather a decent amount. I’ve lasered a good bit from Acadia, and it works just fine. They have great prices, and post about their specials on their instagram account. Plus, most of the time, there is free shipping in the contiguous US.


Thankyou. Since I am new to this whole process I would like to make the sample swatch but dont know how to change the settings on each line. Would I do that with layers?


You’d do it with colors.

The GFUI (Glowforge user interface) determines order of operations based on type of operation (cut vs. engrave) and color; that’s how it decides on the steps to put in the left panel. Colors are ordered by their hex number, from 000000 (black) to FFFFFF (white), with lower numbers first.

Here’s a post that might be helpful: Custom Inkscape, Illustrator, CorelDraw and Affinity Designer Color Palettes for ordering operations in GFUI


Very informative Tutorial. Thanks for all of the tips and tricks.